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Save the Date: Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, May 1-31

Employers and Employees everywhere can show their support for healthy living by participating in Global Employee Health and Fitness Month (GEHFM) sponsored by the National Association for Health and Fitness (NAHF) and MedFit Network. This outstanding worksite initiative is held from May 1 through 31 each year to celebrate National Employee Health and Wellness Month. The new and improved website for a healthy, active workplace can now be accessed 12 months a year and a company can choose not only the month of May, but any other month in the year to improve well-being and to increase human movement.

Since the founding of Employee Health and Wellness Month in May of 1989, there have been significant strides in documenting the evidence of the value of investing in employee health. Employee health is a powerful strategic  component of an organization’s human capital management. Progressive employers understand that their greatest asset is their workforce and an investment in their employee’s health is essential to managing health costs, improving organizational productivity and employee morale.

The amazing strategic partnership between GEHFM, NAHF and MFN resulting in the new and improved Global Employee Health and Fitness Month website is truly historic in the arena of workforce wellness.  Business and industry can encourage positive behavior change in the supportive context of workplace policies and culture and provide support that assists today’s workforce with their daily struggles. Through GEHFM we will achieve the optimum result of a more physically active, healthier population – one healthy moment and one healthy group at a time.

All you have to do is create and share “Moments, Groups and Projects for Health” such as preparing a healthy meal, organizing a recurring walk or bike ride with colleagues or participate in a clean-up day with your community.

It’s time to make “healthy the norm” in American and this game-changing initiative is a powerful effort toward the realization of this goal.

Visit the website, healthandfitnessmonth.org

gym training, young man and his father

Allostasis and Exercise Dosing

Three sets of ten repetitions of pushups.

How long should repetition be?

How much rest should occur between each repetition?

How much rest should occur between each set?

How should the push up be performed?

How would a trainer determine the dose of this exercise was appropriate?

How would a trainer know that the total amount of exercise for a given exercise session was tolerated well by the client?

The dosing of exercise can be an uncertain process with lots of assumptions and guesswork involved. Often the trial and error nature of prescribing a dose of exercise can lead to a client not feeling so good… either during the session, or after. It is definitely no fun to have a client start feeling unwell during a session, or come back following a session only to report a couple days of misery due to soreness and malaise.

An understanding of the relationship between homeostasis and allostasis can inform the exercise prescription dose.

Homeostasis (n.) the tendency toward a stable equilibrium between elements of a system, especially as maintained by physiological processes. The inherent inclination of the body to seek, and maintain, an internal condition of balance, equilibrium, and ease, within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes. Energy conservation and efficiency. Normative. Homeo=same and stasis=not moving.

Allostasis (n.) the intrinsic process by which the body responds to stressors to regain homeostasis. Maintaining stability through change. Adaptive system responses. Coping.

System element excursion in reaction to a stimulus/demand.

It is critical that the exercise professional take a thorough personal health history in order to gather information that directs physical assessment process. Past and current medical conditions, prior injuries and surgeries, life stressors, and activity history can give insights into the overall state of the clients system. This insight may give rise to precautions to physical assessment, and create a conservative frame for asking the client to undergo the physical stress of exercise, both systemically and locally.

A physical assessment can give quantified data points, and qualitative information, that leads to a better understanding of the client’s bodily tolerance potential to mechanical and chemical stressors experienced during and after exercise. This is referred to as the Allostatic Load of the client.

Allostatic Load (n.) the accumulative damage of the body’s cells as an individual is exposed to repeated acute and/or chronic stressors with inefficient regulation of the responses within cells. It represents the physiological consequences/costs of exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuroendocrine responses that result from repeated acute or chronic stressors. This leads to maladaptive system responses. Protective responses that are on too long, not down regulated properly, or cycles of normal hormone change throughout the day, or the response didn’t come on line at all to govern the process of change.

Allostatic Load can accumulate and the overexposure to neural, endocrine, and immune stress mediators can have adverse effects on various organ systems, and their response and return to subsequent stressors, leading to dysfunction and disease. (5)

Join Greg Mack for a webinar for more on this topic, Allostasis and Dosing Exercise


Greg Mack is a gold-certified ACE Medical Exercise Specialist and an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. He is the founder and CEO of the corporation Fitness Opportunities. Inc. dba as Physicians Fitness and Exercise Professional Education. He is also a founding partner in the Muscle System Consortia. Greg has operated out of chiropractic clinics, outpatient physical therapy clinics, a community hospital, large gyms and health clubs, as well operating private studios. His experience in working in such diverse venues enhanced his awareness of the wide gulf that exists between the medical community and fitness facilities, particularly for those individuals trying to recover from, and manage, a diagnosed disease. 

REFERENCES

  1. Bruce S. McEwen and Peter J. Gianaros, Stress and Allostasis-Induced Brain Plasticity, Annu Rev Med. 2011; 62: 431–445. doi:10.1146/annurev-med-052209-100430.
  2. Douglas S. Ramsay and Stephen C. Woods, Clarifying the Roles of Homeostasis and Allostasis in Physiological Regulation, Psychol Rev. 2014 April ; 121(2): 225–247. doi:10.1037/a0035942.
  3. Julie Bienertová-Vašků, Filip Zlámal, Ivo Nečesánek, David Konečný, Anna Vasku Calculating Stress: From Entropy to a Thermodynamic Concept of Health and Disease, Department of Pathological Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University, Kamenice 5 A18, Brno, 625, 00, Czech Republic.
  4. Barbara L. Ganzel, Pamela A. Morris, Elaine Wethington, Allostasis and the human brain: Integrating models of stress from the social and life sciences, Psychol Rev. 2010 January ; 117(1): 134–174. doi:10.1037/a0017773.
  5. Allostatic Load and Allostasis: Summary prepared by Bruce McEwen and Teresa Seeman in collaboration with the Allostatic Load Working Group. Last revised August, 2009.
  6. Bruce S. McEwen, PhD, Stressed or stressed out: What is the difference? Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY.
Parkinson's disease

Why Parkinson’s Doesn’t Have To Win

An exercise management program specifically designed to attack Parkinson’s disease can help you reduce falls, improve energy, and restore function so you can live a normal, independent, and productive life.

Medical exercise and medical fitness professionals can guide you in using exercise to recover a happy, fulfilling, independent life with this condition.

I know this because I have witnessed exercise win. I have seen people claim victory. I have seen them take their life back from the thief called Parkinson’s (keep reading and I will share a story with a great ending)

The Condition

Parkinson's disease

Just to familiarize you, Parkinson’s is a progressive neurologic disorder that affects 1% of the population over 50. The condition progressively destroys cells in the brain that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter controlling movement. Parkinson’s is characterized by tremors, postural instability, impaired movement, rigidity, a shuffling walk, difficulty moving the body, and speech impairment.

The Parkinson’s posture is characterized by an excessive forward head drop, rounded shoulders, forward trunk lean, and side to side shuffling. This posture is very taxing on the body and leaves its afflicted depleted of strength, energy, and confidence in their body.

Falls are a major concern with Parkinson’s disease as the body loses its ability to “catch” itself if it starts to fall. A person will experience decreased reaction time, and a feeling of “slowness”, making it very easy to fall and sustain serious injury.

If I just described your daily struggle, there is GOOD NEWS!

Medical Exercise

An exercise management program specifically designed to attack Parkinson’s disease can help you reduce falls, improve energy, and restore function so you can live a normal, independent, and productive life.

Let’s discuss the components of an effective exercise program for Parkinson’s and how it can benefit you or your loved one.

Range of Motion or Flexibility Training

Parkinson’s disease (PD), reduces the tone (or pull) of the extensor muscles (helps you stand upright). Consequently, when walking, the PD client takes shorter steps and his/her posture is stooped with bent arms, bent knees, and a forward falling head. Over time, this flexion posture (leaning forward) results in further weakening of the extensor muscles (helps you stand upright), and it becomes more difficult to fully stand upright. Joint and muscle stiffness discourages movement, and eventually, the tissue around the joint shortens and restricts movement. Flexibility training improves joint function, reduces stiffness, and improves mobility.

I recommend you focus on the following areas for stretching:

  • Ankle plantar flexion
  • Rotation & lateral flexion of the pelvis
  • Cervical & thoracic extension, rotation, lateral flexion
  • Outer hamstrings
  • Elbow extension and supination
  • Finger flexion and extension

Resistance Training

Gentle strengthening exercises for your extensor muscles (muscles that hold you upright) are super important because they counteract the flexion (forward lean) tendency seen in PD. Extensor muscles of the body include calf (gastrocnemius), anterior thigh (quadriceps), buttocks (gluteals), back (spinal extensors), back of the upper arm (triceps), mid-back (posterior shoulder girdle) and back of the neck (neck extensors). With this, the muscles included in hip extension, external rotation, and abduction are vitally important to improving balance and gait and preventing falls.

The benefits of improving your muscle strength and endurance include:

  • Increased ability to perform Activities of Daily Living
  • Increased independence and self-efficacy
  • Increased lean body mass
  • Maintained or increased bone mineral density
  • Counteraction of the Parkinson’s posture
  • Enabling you to feel better, stand taller, and function more effectively
  • Strengthening muscles and joints, helping you stand upright and move

Cardiorespiratory training

Rigidity can reduce your ability to inhale and exhale your breath. Additionally, PD may cause decreased chest expansion, slowed movements, fatigue, and poor endurance during prolonged activity. Aerobic activity has been shown to be extremely beneficial for improving cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, as well as the generalized health of the PD client. You want to perform aerobic (or cardiorespiratory) exercises involving large muscle groups to increase your heart rate, thereby improving cardiorespiratory function. Aerobic exercise is most beneficial when started early in the disease process.

Some great ways to perform CV exercise include:

  • Walking
  • Stationary biking
  • Elliptical
  • Swimming (aqua aerobics)
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Low-impact dance

Balance & Postural Training

Incorporating postural and balance training into your exercise program cannot be emphasized enough. Parkinson’s pain, stiffness, and lack of muscle strength disrupts your ability to perform efficient, controlled, and coordinated movements like walking. Awkward movement and postural patterns, like side shuffling, will require more energy and will increase your fatigue, resulting in decreased body stability and increased risk of falling.People with PD may develop new postural problems elicited by the disease, or the disease may exacerbate old postural problems. Poor posture fatigues the body. Injury can occur if proper body mechanics are not utilized. Therefore, it is very important that you learn what healthy posture is and how to maintain it throughout your daily activities and during exercise.

Postural training is highly beneficial as it:

  • conserves your energy
  • prevents falling
  • reconnects you with your body

trevor-parkinsons1Postural exercises should focus on increasing your awareness of proper posture and teaching you how to achieve and maintain correct body alignment with all exercise. Proper body mechanics should be a component of the total exercise program. Your program should emphasize sitting, standing, and walking tall. Include techniques for bed mobility tasks, getting in and out of chairs, descending and rising from the floor, and exercises involving proper use of the back muscles in tasks of daily living/lifting, etc.

Body awareness is another component of posture training. This means learning how to observe and listen to your body. People who are aware of their bodies are more likely to recognize incorrect positioning and movements that could unnecessarily stress a joint, increase muscle tension, or increase risk of falling. They are also better able to avoid overexertion.

Prior to activity, you should go through an alignment checklist from foot to neck focusing unloading your joints and using the right muscles to stand. You can practice this in front of a mirror to visually learn how to adjust your body.

Check out this great diagram (right) from the Mayo clinic that illustrates some postural checkpoints to focus on during walking.

Activities that enhance postural awareness go a long way toward improving your ability to recognize and correct postural problems.

Victory

As you read at the beginning of this article, Parkinson’s attempts to steal freedom people by overwhelming them with frustration, grief, or fear of living as a slave to a disease for the rest of their lives. However, as you can see, exercise can set you free. Exercise can teach your body to move right again, and exercise can teach you the tools you need to fight back and reclaim your freedom.


Trevor Wicken has been practicing as a Medical Exercise Practitioner for almost two decades and has a Bachelors degree in Sports Medicine and a Masters Degree in Exercise Science. He is certified as an elite trainer through NASM and has spent his entire career passionately helping people to use exercise and movement to reduce pain, prevent injury, and manage medical conditions. 

Seniors with trainer in gym at sport lifting barbell

4 Tips to Help Your Clients Reduce Their Risk of Falls

No matter how fit and healthy your older clients are, there is one thing that can change their lives forever: a bad fall. Every year, almost 1/3 of older adults fall and many cause injuries that will affect them the rest of their lives.

As a fitness professional, you need to be well-prepared to deliver the most effective fall prevention exercise programming to your clients. You can find excellent guidance on assessment and program design at www.mobilitymatters.fit. But you also should be providing advice to your clients on how to reduce their fall risk in other ways.

Have them do these and keep them on their feet!

1. Many falls happen outside where there are lots of potential hazards. Advise your clients to avoid walking on loose gravel, metallic/painted surfaces and cracked sidewalks and avoid being outdoors in bad weather (e.g., rain, sleet, snow). Appointments can always be rescheduled, but a trip to the ER should never be the reason!

2. Indoors, advise your clients to make sure that their path from the bedroom to the bathroom is free from obstructions (e.g., pet toys, rumpled rugs) prior to going to bed at night – that way a trip to the bathroom will not include a trip and a fall!

3. Advise your older female clients to never wear high heeled shoes outdoors. Put their heels in a canvas tote bag and walk outside in sneakers or flats instead. Nobody looks good falling, no matter how stylish the shoes!

4. In the bathroom, advise your older clients to line the floor of their shower/tub with textured adhesive strips. These are less likely to cause a slip or a trip than a rubber bath mat that might slip or bunch up. They also give a nice pedicure!

Are you a fitness professional interested in learning more on this topic? Check out Dr. Thompson’s 4 hour course with PTontheNet, Essentials of Older Adult Exercise Assessment and Program Design for Preventing Falls.


Christian Thompson, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of San Francisco and founder of Mobility Matters, an exercise assessment and program design platform designed to help fitness professionals and clinicians work with older adults. Christian has published scientific articles on exercise programming for older adults in peer-reviewed journals such as Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, and Journal of Applied Research.

Pineapple-Paradise-Spinach-Smoothie-Culinary-Hill-square

The Naturopathic Chef: Jaeger Bomb Smoothie

This smoothie was created in honor of one of The Ageless Kitchen’s favorite Food and Fitness Lovers. Jaeger is a poster person for the life/work balance I speak of. This recipe is a big dose of oxygen, especially for a person who might sit in front of a screen all day. Our red blood cells go to sleep, and become stacked like poker chips, in our torso. We can’t process fat efficiently if we don’t fill our bodies with oxygen. Aerobic means “with usable oxygen.”

So, here’s to moving, even if you’re not moving. Burning fat, by increasing oxygen and reducing inflammation is The Jaeger Bomb’s mission.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup frozen Pineapple
  • 1 cup Power Greens mix (produce section)
  • 1/3 cup Coconut water
  • 1/3 cup Almond milk
  • 1/3 Avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 2 tsps Chia
  • 2 tsps Hemp Hearts (seeds)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Place all ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth and light green. Stop and scrape the sides down 1 or 2 times. Our customers comment about how light and airy our smoothies are. We don’t add ice, and we blend an extra 1-2 minutes.

Phyte Bites

Pineapple is a very powerful anti-inflammatory food, due to the enzyme Bromelain. The highest concentration of Bromelain is found in the core of the Pineapple. When I cut up a Pineapple to freeze, I include the core. Slice it in coins and toss with the other fruit. When you blend it, you won’t even notice.

All of the different greens contain different phytonutrients. Change it up each week. Avocado, Chia, and Hemp provide essential fatty acids, and offer a host of other vitamins and minerals. This is a smoothie with serious Phyte!


Affectionately referred to as The Walking Encyclopedia of Human Wellness, Fitness Coach, Strength Competitor and Powerlifting pioneer, Tina “The Medicine Chef” Martini is an internationally recognized Naturopathic Chef and star of the cooking show, Tina’s Ageless Kitchen. Tina’s cooking and lifestyle show has reached millions of food and fitness lovers all over the globe. Over the last 30 years, Tina has assisted celebrities, gold-medal athletes and over-scheduled executives naturally achieve radiant health using The Pyramid of Power: balancing Healthy Nutrition and the healing power of food, with Active Fitness and Body Alignment techniques. Working with those who have late-stage cancer, advanced diabetes, cardiovascular and other illnesses, Tina’s clients are astounded at the ease and speed with which they are able to restore their radiant health. Tina believes that maintaining balance in our diet, physical activity, and in our work and spiritual life is the key to our good health, happiness and overall well being. Visit her website, themedicinechef.com

sarahcummings-sleeparticle

The Health Benefits of Better Sleep

The more that time goes on, the more evidence there is that sleep is our friend – possibly one of the best! Do you find that drifting off into sound slumber among today’s full-on society is something that is slightly out of reach for you in your life?

If you’re nodding your head as you read this, and you want to find out how sleep can have a positive impact on your life, then you’ve come to the right place.

Over the course of this article, we’re going to elaborate on the health benefits of sleep and how it can make a difference in your life!

Heart Health

Did you know that the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke are higher in the early morning hours? [1] It’s thought that this is because of the way sleep interacts with our blood vessels.

If you are experiencing a lack of sleep, then you are considered among those who are more likely to be associated with issues surrounding blood pressure and cholesterol. These are defined as high-risk factors for both stroke and heart disease.

You’ll benefit from a healthier heart if sleep between seven and nine hours every evening, as recommended by health professionals.

Body Repairs

Sleep is your body’s time to be at its most relaxed. This is also the period in which the body busies itself repairing any damage developed from a range of factors, including stress.

When you’re asleep, notably deeper stages of sleep, [2] your body works to repair muscle, organs, and other cells. Chemicals that operate to strengthen your immune system begin to circulate in your blood.

Your body’s cells are able to produce more protein, and these protein molecules are at the root of the repairs your body needs to overcome daily stressors.

Less Stress

When you don’t receive adequate amounts of sleep, your body moves into a state of stress. This means that your body’s functions are put into ‘high alert mode’, with the effects of this ranging from high blood pressure to the increased production of stress-related hormones.

Avoiding high blood pressure is important, because high blood pressure can increase your heart attack and stroke risk. What’s more, when we factor in stress hormones and how they make it harder to fall asleep, it soon becomes clear that sleep is vital to stay for health.

More Energy

High-quality rest gives will make you feel energized and more alert the following day. You’ll be more active and use up the energy you’ve rewarded yourself with, which subsequently opens the door for a good night’s sleep that evening, too.

This knock-on effect creates a healthy cycle that is hard to not enjoy, especially when you are waking up feeling refreshed and ‘full of beans’ to accomplish whatever lies ahead each day.

Enhanced Memory

During sleep, as your body is resting and repairing itself, your brain is hard at work processing the things you have learned that day.

It’s like a filing process, whereby your brain is sorting all the things in their rightful place, creating connections between events, memories and feelings, for example.

The ability to move into a deep sleep is absolutely essential for your brain to form links and memories, and the better quality of sleep you experience, the better your memory will become.

Weight Loss

Some experts believe people who sleep under seven hours each evening, are more likely to be classified as overweight or obese. Researchers believe that this is due to the balance of bodily hormones that affect the appetite of sleep-deprived individuals. [3]

The body’s hormones leptin and ghrelin are both responsible for the regulation of your appetite, and when sleep isn’t at a suitable level, these hormones become disrupted.

The result of the disruption with these hormones is that you will eat more than necessary, and when you eat more than you need to, losing weight – and even maintaining it – becomes a difficult task.

Conclusion

As you may have realized throughout this article, sleep has the ability to have a bearing on many of the chemicals and processes that help your body to function. This is what makes sleep such an important function in all of our lives.


Sarah Cummings writes for The Sleep Advisor (sleepadvisor.org), a site dedicated to helping people improve their sleep habits. Her love of exercise has always been a big part of how she leads her life, and finds that her keen approach to a healthy diet, daily yoga and dedication to high-quality sleep helps her offer sound advice to others all over the world!

References

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs/heart-attacks-worse-in-the-morning/
  2. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/07/your-body-does-incredible_n_4914577.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3519150/

 

quitting as self care

Quitting as Self-Care

A few years ago the term self-care appeared as a means of describing anything that a person does to take care of themselves, like getting a massage, meditating, going for a walk in nature, or taking a relaxing bath in essential oils. All of the above are great ways to improve your physical and emotional health; however, they are often used not as a way to improve health, but to undo the damage caused by underlying stresses and simply restore one’s previous level of health.

Take meditation. It’s a practice that has been used for millennia as a means of trying to reach an enlightened state. But what do we often use it for now? As a means to calm ourselves down after an argument with a significant other or a way to gain a glimpse of equanimity before what we know will be a tough day at work.

In the above instances, meditation isn’t being used to take us to a higher place, it’s being used to get us back to baseline. And then the next day, when our job or our toxic relationships drag us back into sadness or anxiety, we use it again to bring us back up.

This is akin to using Tylenol to treat cancer. Cancer causes pain, so we take Tylenol to relieve the pain. This treats only the symptoms and ensures that we’re going to have to take Tylenol again and again each time the pain arises.

How would we stop that cycle? By curing the cancer.

Similarly, you can’t massage away a bad job and you can’t journal away a toxic relationship. In both instances, you’re merely treating the symptoms.

What’s the cure? Quitting.

Quit the job that’s taken your sanity day after day. Quit the relationships that have led you to the negative self-talk that requires hours of journaling and meditation to sort out.

Because all of the above self-care tools are amazing in their own rights, but are so much more helpful in improving your physical and mental health if you’re starting from a more stable baseline — which requires taking a good look (often through journaling!) at what is disturbing your peace.

So next time something has you anxious or depressed, grab that journal and write down what led to that feeling. Then start analyzing whether the cause can be quit. You may need a job-ectomy, or to have some toxic friends surgically removed from your friend circle.

And after you do, be sure to light some candles, throw some essential oils in a bathtub, and meditate your way to enlightenment — free of whatever was holding you back!

Learn more about strategic quitting for your health… register for Dr. Morski’s upcoming webinar:


Article reprinted with permission from Lynn Marie Morski.

Dr. Lynn Marie Morski is a Quitting Evangelist. She helps people to and through their quits through her book “Quitting by Design” and her podcast Quit Happens, along with speaking and coaching. She is also a board-certified physician in family medicine and sports medicine, currently working at the Veterans Administration. In addition, she is an attorney and former adjunct law professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Visit her website, quittingbydesign.com